Tolworth Tower retrofit criticised by mayor for absence of affordable housing

The Mayor of London has raised concerns over 3DReid’s planned redevelopment of Richard Seifert’s 1964 Tolworth Tower over its lack of affordable housing.

The scheme’s developer Meadow Partners wants to build 500 private homes in a scheme involving the Modernist landmark as well as two new towers, but has said it cannot ‘viably deliver’ any affordable housing. However, a report by Greater London Authority planners called the zero offer ‘wholly unacceptable’ and asked the team to reconsider.

Last October, Kingston Council gave the practice permission to convert the tower, which stands next to the A3 dual carriageway, into 261 homes. This earlier scheme offered 35 per cent build-to-rent flats as its affordable component but, according to the developer, these have not come forward because of a failure to come to a legal agreement with the council. Instead, it has lodged revised plans with the council for a private housing scheme comprising the tower conversion alongside two new tower blocks – one 17-19 storeys, the other 13-15 storeys.

The scheme also includes a new public pocket plaza off Tolworth Broadway and a raised garden for residents at second-floor level, replacing the existing car park deck. But the GLA’s concerns mean that if the council grants it planning in its current form it could face being called in by the mayor.

Retrofitting the tower means the practice will save approximately 5,800 tonnes of embodied carbon by keeping the original structural frame. The building’s external curtain wall cladding is to be fully replaced with a ‘sympathetic interpretation of the original design’, while its aluminium spandrel panels will also be reinstated. A new sculptural stair has been designed to replace the original on Tolworth Broadway, which 3dReid says no longer meets Building Regulations requirements.

The site has been earmarked for development for years, with previous schemes including a complex of four new towers by Carey Jones Chapman Tolcher (CJCT). The scheme was approved in 2016 but was never finalised. 3DReid declined to comment.


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